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Termination of the Mandate 
15th May, 1948 

Statement prepared for public information 
by the Colonial Office and Foreign Office 





An Agency of the British Governnaent 


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|\|gu... Palestine: Termination of the Mandate 
15th May, 1948 


mi; roafesty'ff'V^^vernment in the United Kingdom of Great Britain 
and Northern Ireland will cease to be responsible for the administration of 
Palestine from midnight on 14th May, 1948. The ending of thirty years 
of British rule in Palestine, begun when General Allenby's troops occupied 
that country towards the close of the first world war, provides a fitting 
occasion for a brief review of its history and of the policy pursued by His 
Majesty's Government. 

I. — ^The Origin and Nature of the British Mandate for Palestine 

The Mandate for Palestine was assigned to His Majesty by the Supreme 
Council of the Allied Powers in 1920, was approved by the League of 
Nations in 1922 and took effect in 1923, when the Treaty of Lausanne 
formally ended the war between the Allied Powers and the Ottoman 
Empire, in which Palestine had previously been included. 

To implement this Mandate, His Majesty's Government set up in 
Palestine an Administration comprising a British High Commissioner, 
appointed by and responsible to the Colonial Oifice, assisted by an Advisory 
Council nominated by him from his. officials. These, together with the 
police and judiciary, were initially mainly British, but, in the civil service, 
British subjects were gradually replaced by Arabs and Jews in all but the 
most senior appointments. The Administration was supported by a British 

With this mandate His Majesty's Government accepted certain obliga- 
tions, which are set out in two documents; the Covenant of the League 
of Nations and the Mandate for Palestine. Article 22 of the Covenant 
contains the general rules applying to all Mandated Territories, while the 
Mandate for Palestine itself defines the particular rules to be observed by 
the Mandatory for that country. 
Article 22 begins:— 

"To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the 
late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which 
formerly governed them, and which are inhabited by peoples not yet 
able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the 
modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being 
and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation, 
and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied 
in this Covenant." 

Article 22 then goes on to explain that the nature of these Mandates 
should be adapted to the differing needs of the various territories to which 
they arc to be applied, and its fourth paragraph reads:— 

"Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire 
have reached a state of development where their existence as independ- 
ent nations can be jHOvisionally recognised subject to the rendering of 
administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as 
they are able to stjind :ilone. The wishes of these communities must 
l)c a priiwipiil < onsidcr.ii ion in the selection of the Mandatory." 


UniversHy of Toii 
The most important of the additional obligations imposed on I^stin Texas 
Majesty's Government by the Mandate for Palestine itself are those con- 
tained in the Preamble and in Articles 2 and 6. The following are the 
relevant extracts;— 


"The Council of the League of Nations: .... Whereas the Principal 
Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be respon- 
sible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on 2nd 
November, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and 
adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine 
of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood 
that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and re- 
ligious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the 
rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; .... 
Confirming the said Mandate, defines its terms as follows;—" 

Article 2 

"The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under 
such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the 
establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the pre- 
amble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for 
safe-guarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of 
Palestine, irrespective of race and religion." 

Article 6 

"The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and 
position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall 
facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall en- 
courage, in co-operation with the Jewish Agency referred to in Article 4, 
close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste 
lands not required for public purposes." 

On 16th September, 1922, the Council of the League agreed that those 
provisions of the Mandate relating to the establishment of a Jewish na- 
tional home should not apply to Transjordan, which was thereafter sepa- 
rately administered until it became an independent State. 

In accepting these obligations His Majesty's Government undertook 
three major tasks. The first of these was to promote the well-being and 
development of the people of Palestine. The second was to facilitate the 
establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and 
Jewish immigration into that country, while ensuring that the rights and 
position of other sections of the population were not prejudiced. The third 
was to prepare the people of Palestine for self-government. 

It is by their efforts to carry out the tasks set them by the League of 
Nations, and not in the light of the conflicting aspirations of either Arabs 
or Jews, that the British Administration of Palestine must be judged. 

n, — ^The Development of Palestine 

When British rule began, Palestine was a primitive and undeveloped 
country. Agriculture was inefficient, industry almost non-existent and com- 
munications inadequate. Its population of some 750,000 were diseascrridden 
and ]>oor. 1 ,;iwk'ssness was rife inside Pnlrs)in(> :ind made worse by r.iidiii)', 

sert. The Government of Palestine had to cope with' 
all. these problems in their task of promoting the well-being and develop- 
ment of the inhabitants. 

In their efforts to improve agricultural efficiency the Government of 
Palestine introduced new types of livestock and seeds, better methods of 
farming and special measures directed against the pests and diseases affect- 
ing crops and cattle. Substantial loans were granted to farmers and con- 
siderable progress was made towards the restoration of Palestine's forests. 
The effect of these steps was reinfoiced by the achievements of Jewish capi- 
tal and enterprise and by the steadily rising standards of health and educa- 
tion among the Arabs. A measure of the success achieved is provided by 
the increase in the export of citrus fruit (Palestine's most important export) 
from 2,600,000 cases in 1929-30 to 15,300,000 in 1938-39. 

The development of industry has, in the main, been achieved by Jewish 
capital and initiative, but the expansion and modernisation by the Gov- 
ernment of Palestine of the country's roads and railways and the construc- 
tion of the deep water port of Haifa have also made an important con- 
tribution, while their active encouragement fostered the remarkable in- 
dustrial expansion which took place during the war. 

An efficient and impartial judicial system was set up and, although the 
Government's achievement in establishing law and order was later to be 
largely undone by political violence, it had made such progress by the end 
of 1926 that the British garrison could be reduced to a single squadron of 
the R.A.F. and two companies of armoured cars. 

It is, however, in their efforts to improve public health and the standard 
of living that the Government of Palestine have achieved their most strik- 
ing success. The elimination of malaria, the creation of medical services, 
the improvement of water supplies and the provision of infant welfare 
centres reinforced the effects of a higher standard of living due to economic 
development. The total Arab population was almost doubled between 
1922 and 1945, mainly owing to the sharp fall in infant mortality (which 
decreased by 39 per cent, between 1927 and 1945) and to their growing rate 
of natural increase, now among the highest in the world. 

The establishment and expansion by the Government of Arab educa- 
tion (Jewish education being provided entirely by the Jews themselves) 
was considerably hampered by the recurring political disturbances in 
Palestine and the high proportion of Government expenditure conse- 
quently devoted to the maintenance of law and order, but in 1945-46, 57 
per cent, of Arab boys between 5 and 14 and 23 per cent, of the girls were 
attending school. 

In the words of the report submitted in 1947 to the General Assembly 
by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine: 

"One may find in the record of the Palestine Administration evi- 
dence of persistent effort to effect gradual improvements in the economic 
and social condition of the Arab population." 

in. — ^The Jewish National Home 

The progress made towards the establishment in Palestine of a national 
home for the Jewish people has been remarkable. 400,000 Jewish immi- 
grants have entered Palestine since 1920 and the total Jewish population 
has risen from 84,000 in 1922 to 640,000 to-day. Large areas of land, once 
neglected, liave been brought into fruitful bearing and the area owned by 
|ews has increased from 650,000 dunums (') to over 1,600,000. New stand- 

ee Oil 

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ard^^gncuTtur^hav^De&n^ntroduced and 300 agriaunTral^etuemems 
and small towns with an aggregate population of 140,000 created. Tel 
Aviv, which is wholly Jewish, has grown from a village to a modern city of 
150,000 inhabitants, the largest in Palestine. Hydro-electric energy has 
been developed by the Jordan and Yarmuk concessionaries, who have also 
set up fuel power plants, while the resources of the Dead Sea are being 
exploited by a concessionary company founded on Jewish initiative. In- 
dustries have been established, notwithstanding the paucity of raw ma- 
terials, covering a wide range of manufactures and having a gross output 
valued in 1947 at some £40,000,000. This economic development has been 
supplemented by successful efforts in the field of social services. The medi- 
cal services, first established by voluntary bodies, are extensive, providing a 
wide range of facilities and commanding a high degree of skill in their 
staff. The communal education system, which provides primary schooling 
for almost all Jewish children of school age, as well as secondary, technical 
and agricultural education, is crowned by the Hebrew University in Jeru- 

The achievement of so much in so short a space of time is primarily 
due to the efforts, intelligence and devotion of the Jews themselves, and to 
the protection and assistance afforded them by the Government of Palestine. 
To quote once more the Report of the United Nations Special Committee 
on Palestine, 

"The present difficult circumstances should not distort the perspec- 
tive of solid achievement arising from the joint efforts of the Jewish 
community and the Administration in laying the foundations of the 
National Home." 

IV. — The Obstacles which Frustrated the Efforts of His Majesty's 
Government to Establish Self-Governing Institutions in Palestine 

The Government of Palestine were unable to make comparable progress 
towards the accomplishment of their third task, the preparation of the 
people for self-government, owing to the mutual hostility of Arabs and 
Jews. The existence of Arab opposition to the creation of a Jewish national 
home was apparent even before the Mandate began. The American King- 
Crane Commission sent out to the Middle East by President Wilson in 
1919 had reported that: 

"The Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the 
anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to 
be flouted. No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed 
that the Zionist programme could be carried out except by force of 

The first outbreaks of anti-Jewish violence took place in 1920 and 1921. 
These were followed by more serious disturbances in 1929. 

These disturbances did not prevent the Government of Palestine from 
attempting to set up self-governing institutions. In 1920, the High Com- 
missioner had formed a nominated Advisory Council consisting of 10 Brit- 
ish officials, 4 Moslem Arabs, 3 Christian Arabs and 3 Jews. Two years 
later an Order-in-Council was issued providing for the creation of a Legis- 
lative Council, to consist of the High Commissioner, 10 official members 
and 12 elected members, of whom 8 were to be Moslems, 2 Christians and 
2 Jews. The Arabs refused to take part in any form of government involv- 
ing acceptance of the Jewish national home and boycotted the elections 
held in 1923, thus making it impossible to set up the Legislative Council. 
The High Coimiiissioner then attempted to reconstitute ilie Advisory 

r on the lines oi cne abortive i-egislative CJouncil7 but, of the .„ 
Arabs nominated by him, 7 withdrew their acceptance under political pres- 
sure, thus preventing the transformation of the nominated Advisory Coun- 
cil into a representative body. The High Commissioner then attempted 
to create an Arab Agency analogous to the Jewish Agency, to which Article 
4 of the Mandate had assigned the duty of "advising and co-operating with 
the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters 
as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the in- 
terests oi the Jewish population in Palestine," but the Arab leaders refused 
this offer on the ground that it would not satisfy the aspirations of the 
Arab people, adding that they had never recognised the status of the Jew- 
ish Agency and had no desire for the establishment of an Arab Agency on 
the same basis. The Government of Palestine has ever since been carried 
on by the High Commissioner with the aid of a nominated Advisory Coun- 
cil of ofl&cials. 

The next seven years saw a sharp increase in the number of Jews enter- 
ing Palestine. In 1928 there had been a net Jewish immigration of only 
10 persons, but between 1930 and 1936 over 182,000 entered the country. 
Although the impetus given to the economic development of Palestine by 
these immigrants and the capital they brought, conferred certain benefits 
on the Arab community also, the growth in the Jewish population was 
bitterly resented by the Arabs. In 1933 this resentment found expression 
in riots directed not against the Jews but against the Government of Pales- 
tine, who were accused of tilting the balance against the Arabs in their 
administration of the Mandate. By far the most serious outbreak of Arab 
violence, however, was the rebellion of 1936-39. This took various forms, 
rioting, sabotage, destruction of property, terrorism and guerrilla warfare, 
and was directed both against the Jews and against the Government of 
Palestine. In all some 4,000 people were killed and two divisions of British 
troops, together with several squadrons of the R.A.F., had to be employed 
to suppress the rising, a task not completed until the end of 1939. The 
violence and extent of the rebellion were such that His Majesty's Govern- 
ment appointed a Royal Commission headed by Lord Peel, to enquire 
into the underlying causes of the disturbances and into the operation of 
the Mandate, and to make recommendations for the removal of any legiti- 
mate grievances felt by Jews or Arabs. The Commission reported in 1937 
that the underlying causes were the same as" those which had brought 
about the earlier disturbances of 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1933, namely, the 
desire of the Arabs for national independence and their hatred and fear 
of the establishment of the Jewish national home. They pointed out that, 
although both Arabs and Jews were fit to govern themselves, yet, associated 
as they were under the Mandate, self-government was impracticable for 
both since neither would accept a Government in which the other had a 
majority. They concluded that the obligations imposed upon His Majesty's 
Government by the terms of the Mandate were mutually irreconcilable and 
that it was impossible both to concede the Arab claim to self-government 
and to secure the establishment of the Jewish national home. They accord- 
ingly recommended that the Mandate should be terminated and Palestine 
divided between the Jews and Arabs. Failing this, they recommended that, 
if the Mandate was to continue, the rate of Jewish immigration, previously 
limited only by the economic absorptive capacity of the country, should, 
for the next five years, be restricted to a maximum of 12,000 a year. 

Neither the scheme suggested by the Peel Commission, nor the more 
detailed proposals for partition of the Woodhead Commission which fol- 
lowed them, proved acceptable to either Arabs or Jews. His Majesty's 
Government, who (niginally accepted the principle of partition and 

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had been authorised by the League of Nations to investigate its practi- 
cability, could therefore only conclude that: — 

"The political, administrative and financial difficulties involved in 
the proposal to create independent Arab and Jewish States inside Pales- 
tine are so great that this solution of the problem is impracticable." 

His Majesty's Government accordingly decided to i-esume their efforts 
to reconcile Jews and Arabs within the terms of the Mandate. In 1939 
they issued a White Paper defining their policy and explaining that it was 
not their intention to convert Palestine into a Jewish Statejar into an Arab 
State, but that their purpose was:— 

"The establishment within 10 years of an independent Palestine 
State .... in which Arabs and Jews share in government in such a 
way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community are 

The White Paper went on to explain that His Majesty's Government 
had always hoped that: 

"In time the Arab population, recognising the advantages to be de- 
rived from Jewish settlement and development in Palestine, would be- 
come reconciled to the further growth of the Jewish national home. 
This hope has not been fulfilled. The alternatives before His Majesty's 
Government are either;— 

(i) To seek to expand the Jewish national home indefinitely by 
immigration, against the strongly expressed will of the Arab 
people of the country; or 

(ii) To permit further expansion of the Jewish national home by 
immigration only if the Arabs are prepared to acquiesce in it." 

His Majesty's Government pointed out that adoption of the first policy 
would mean rule by force, contravene the obligations imposed on them by 
the League of Nations and make impossible the creation of that mutual 
tolerance and goodwill between Arabs and Jews essential to the security and 
progress of the Jewish National Home itself. They accordingly decided 
that, after the admission of not more than 75,000 additional immigrants 
during the five years beginning in April 1939, no further Jewish immigra- 
tion would be permitted, unless the Arabs of Palestine were prepared to 
acquiesce in it. His Majesty's Government also decided that, in accordance 
with the stipulation in Article 6 of the Mandate that the encouragement of 
close settlement by Jews on the land should not prejudice the rights and 
position of other sections of the population, certain restrictions should be 
placed on the sale of Arab lands to Jews. The amount of land already 
transferred had now made such measures essential, in order to leave suffi- 
cient land for the increased Arab population. 

This new statement of policy was examined by the Permanent Man- 
dates Commission of the League of Nations in June 1939. Four of the 
Commission's members considered that this policy was not in conformity 
with the Mandate, while the remaining three thought it justified by exist- 
ing conditions, provided that it was not opposed by the Council of the 
League. It was accordingly the intention of His Majesty's Government to 
seek the approval of the Council for their new policy, but this was pre- 
vented by the outbreak of war in September 1939. The Arabs were critical 
of many of the provisions in the White Paper but it seemed probable that 
they would eventually acquiesce in their application. The Jews, on the 
other hand, were bitterly opposed to it and its publication was immedi- 
ately followed by an outburst of Jewish violence, which continn(>(l miiil 
the beginning of the war. 

lUM) iiltio saw Ihc bcigiiining ol organised altciiipLs by Jaige numbers 
ol' Jews to Ciller Palcsline in excess oi. the permitted quota. 'I'liese attempts 
have continued ever since, and, by exacerbating Arab resentment, have 
greatly increased the difficulty ol' maintaining law and order in Palestine. 
During the war the majority ol these illegal immigrants were deported to 
IVI ami tins, as enemy agents might otherwise have employed this means of 
entering Palestine, then a vital strategic area. In 1945 these Jews were 
biought back Irom Mauritius and allowed to enter Palestine, an equivalent 
number being deducted Irom the legal quota, which, on the expiry of the 
iive-year period laid down in the White Paper of 1939, had been fixed at 
l,r)()0 a month, as war conditions had prevented the Jews from bringing in 
all tlie 75,000 immigrants permitted by the White Paper. Although this 
limit was reached at the end of 1945, His Majesty's Government decided to 
continue the quota of 1,500 a month pending the report of the Anglo- 
American Commission of Enquiry, which was then starting its work. Jew- 
ish immigration has, in fact, continued at this rate ever since. In the 
sunnner of 1946 the influx of Jewish illegal immigrants exceeded the 
capacity of the camps in Palestine where, since the war, they had been 
detained pending their release under the legal quota, and the majority of 
those reaching Palestine waters subsequently have been sent to Cyprus for 
the same purpose. 

The control of illegal immigration not only burdened still further the 
British forces in Palestine and the Royal Navy, but was also the principal 
cause of the steady increase in Jewish terrorist activities. These had ceased 
at the beginning of the war, in whose prosecution both Jews and Arabs had 
loyally co-operated, but broke out again in 1942. From that year until the 
end of the wa(r Jewish extremists carried out a number of political murders, 
robberies and acts of sabotage, while Haganah (an illegal military force 
controlled by the Jewish Agency), organised the theft of arms and ammuni- 
tion from the British forces in the Middle East. Once Germany had been 
defeated, these activities, previously sporadic and supported by ' only a 
minority of the Jewish community, increased in scale and intensity as the 
ellbrts of terrorist gangs were supplemented by those of Haganah and as- 
sisted by members of the Jewish Agency. Communications were attacked 
throughout the country; Government buildings, military trains and places 
of entertainment frequented by Britons were blown up; and numbers of 
Britons, Arabs and moderate Jews were kidnapped or murdered. This 
wholesale terrorism has continued ever since. 

When the second world war ended in 1945, the League of Nations, to 
whom the policy set out in the White Paper of 1939 was to have been 
submitted, no longer existed. The violent and lasting hostility towards its 
proposals shown by the Jews and the presence in Europe of several hundred 
thousand would-be immigrants, the homeless survivors of German persecu- 
tion, had also to be considered. When, therefore, in August 1945, President 
Truman suggested the immediate admission to Palestine of 100,000 Jewish 
immigrants. His Majesty's Government enlisted the co-operation of the 
United States Government in the appointment of an Anglo-American Com- 
mittee of Enquiry to investigate the problem of Palestine and of Jewish 
refugees in Europe and to make recommendations accordingly. This Com- 
mittee, in a report presented in April 1946, explicitly rejected partition as 
a solution and proposed instead that the Mandate should be continued 
IK'uding the execution of a Trusteeship agreement. They also made a 
number of suggestions for economic and social development and recom- 
mended the removal of restrictions on Jewish purchase of Arab land and 
the iirnncdiate authorisation of 100,000 Jewish immigration certificates. 
As the Connniitcc had made no precise recommendations as to the nature 

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ol Ihc achumisiraiion oi the steps to be taken to prepare lor self-government 
(huing the long period of British rule which they envisaged, delegations of 
British and American officials met in London to draw up a detailed plan 
covering these points. This plan, whose principle was that of provincial 
autonomy, proposed the division of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish 
province with a third area under the direct control of a Central Govern- 
ment administered by the British High Commissioner with a nominated 
Executive Council. Each province would have an elected legislature and 
executive with a wide range of functions including control over land trans- 
fers and immigration. This plan was supported by both the British and 
the American officials and was approved, in principle and as a basis for 
negotiation with Arabs and Jews, by His Majesty's Government. The 
United States Government, however, declined to associate themselves with 
these negotiations. Both the Jews and the Arabs of Palestine refused to 
dis,cuss it and, after negotiations with representatives of Arab States and 
informal conversations with the Jewish Agency, His Majesty's Government 
produced, in February 1947, a modified plan for a five-year trusteeship of 
Palestine on a cantonal basis as a preliminary to independence. This, too, 
was rejected by both Arabs and Jews, who had each put forward proposals 
of their own: the Arabs, for an independent Palestine with a permanent 
Arab majority; the Jews, for a Jewish Palestine or, if Palestine could not 
yet be granted independence, for unrestricted Jewish immigration and 
settlement throughout Palestine, or, as a last resort, for a viable Jewish 
State m an adequate area of Palestine. Neither Arabs nor Tews would 
consider the others' proposals. 

V. — ^The Problem Referred to the United Nations 

After the failure of these discussions His Majesty's Government decided 
that the only course now open to them was to submit the problem to the 
judgment of the United Nations, asking that body to recommend a solu- 
tion. The reasons for this decision were explained by His Majesty's Prin- 
cipal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in a speech to the House of 
Commons on 18th February, 1947, in which he said:- 

"His Majesty's Government have been faced with an irreconcilable 
conflict of principles. There are in Palestine about 1,200,000 Arabs and 
600,000 Jews. For the Jews the essential point of principle is the creation 
of a sovereign Jewish State. For the Arabs, the essential point of prin- 
ciple is to resist to the last the establishment of Jewish sovereignty in 
any part of Palestine. The discussions of the last month have quite 
clearly shown that there is no prospect of resolving this conflict by any 
settlement negotiated between the parties. But if the conflict has to be 
resolved by an arbitrary decision, that is not a decision which His 
Majesty's Government are empowered, as Mandatory, to take. His 
Majesty's Government have of themselves no power, under the terms 
of the Mandate, to award the country either to the Arabs or to the 
Jews, or even to partition it between them." 

The question was accordingly placed on the agenda of the General 
Assembly of the United Nations, who, after a special session, appointed on 
15th May, 1947, a Special Committee to investigate the problem and recom- 
mend a solution. In the course of this session the United Kingdom Dele- 
gate had explained that His Majesty's Government could not commit 
themselves to enforcing alone any settlement not acceptable to both Arabs 
and Jews. 

The Special Committee presented their report on 31st August, 1947. 
A majority of the members recommended the partition of Palestine into 
independent Arab and Jewish States, with special provisions for the neu- 


^ Vljili^.'JiiliLSt'iieJ.i 



irality of Jerusalem and the preservation of Palestine's economic unity. 
A minority recommended the creation of a federal State, in whose Govern- 
uient both Arabs and Jews would share. Neither plan was acceptable to 
the Arabs, but the Jews were willing to agree to partition subject to certain 
del nil cd reservations. The Committee's report was considered by the 
Ccnoral Assembly of the United Nations in September 1947, when the 
United Kingdom Delegate explained that His Majesty's Government were 
not themselves prepared to undertake the task of imposing a policy in 
Palestine by force of arms, and that, in the absence of a settlement, they 
must plan for an early withdrawal of British forces and o£ the British 
administration from Palestine. He also urged that any recommendations 
made by the General Assembly should be accompanied by a clear definition 
of the means by which they were to be carried out. These warnings were 
repeated throughout the Assembly's session, which closed on 29th Novem- 
ber, 1947, with the adoption, by 33 votes to 13 with 10 abstentions, of a 
modified scheme of partition to be implemented by a Commission of five 
members unsupported by any police or military forces. This plan was ac- 
cepted in principle by the majority of the Jews, but the Arabs announced 
their intention of resisting it by every means within their power and were 
promised lull support in their resistance by Egypt, Iraq, the Lebanon, 
Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan and the Yemen. While this plan was still 
being discussed, and before the vote was taken. His Majesty's Government 
repeatedly emphasised that, in the absence of agreement by both Arabs and 
Jews, they would not themselves enforce it and announced their intention 
to withdraw all British forces from Pklestine by 1st August, 1948. 

His Majesty's Government had now striven for twenty-seven years 
without success to reconcile Jews and Arabs and to prepare the people of 
Palestine for self-government. The policy adopted by the United Nations 
had aroused the determined resistance of the Arabs, while the States sup- 
porting this policy were themselves not prepared to enforce it. 84,000 
troops, who received no co-operation from the Jewish community, had 
proved insufficient to maintain law and order in the face of a campaign 
of terrorism waged by highly organised Jewish forces equipped with all the 
weapons of the modern infantryman. Since the war 338 British subjects 
had been killed in Palestine, while the military forces there had cost the 
British taxpayer £100 million. The renewal of Arab violence on the an- 
nouncement of the United Nations decision to partition Palestine and the 
declared intentions of Jewish extremists showed that the loss of further 
British lives was inevitable. It was equally clear that, in view of His 
Majesty's Government's decision not to enforce the partition of Palestine 
against the declared wishes of the majority of its inhabitants, the continued 
presence there of British troops and officials could no longer be justified. 

In these circumstances His Majesty's Government decided to bring to 
an end their Mandate and to prepare for the earliest possible withdrawal 
irom Palestine of all British forces. They accordingly announced, on 11th 
December, 1947, that the Mandate would end on 15th May, 1948, from 
which date the sole task of the British forces in Palestine would be to com- 
plete their withdrawal by 1st August, 1948. His Majesty's Government's 
decision to end the Mandate was welcomed by Arabs and Jews alike, as 
well as by the United Nations. 

VI ^The Last Months of the Mandate 

Tlie Government of Palestine had now to hold apart two peoples bent 
on open w;ir and to guartl ilie coast and frontiers of Palestine against the 
arms and sup|)()il('rs wliich both Arabs and Jews attempted to introduce. 

i^li'j>aLtiii«»tJJViitfi:i.«ti'J. .. 



"^.'T.^T^ f '1 ^' ' r. 7^r'^TFT^y' ) tT i^- -^i " ? » ^ - - " ''jpBBr 

while sinuUtancously winding up their administration, evacuating tluvir 
oilicials, withdrawing their security forces and negotiating with the United 
Nations the transfer of their authority and functions. Inevitably not all of 
these tasks were fully accomplished. 

It had originally been the intention of the United Nations that the 
Commission appointed to implement the Assembly's recommendations 
should succeed to the authority exercised by the Government of Palestine 
and should arrange for the transfer and maintenance of the essential serv- 
ices operated by the Government. Experts from the United Kingdom and 
Palestine were accordingly appointed to assist the Commission at Lake 
Success and the many problems involved were discussed in detail, both in 
London and in New York. The arrival of the Commission in Palestine 
to implement the partition plan would have inflamed Arab violence and 
made the problem of internal order more difficult than ever in the final 
period of the evacuation. His Majesty's Government could not, therefore, 
agree to the proposed entry, in February, of the whole Commission, but 
suggested the despatch of a small advance party. When this advance party 
had visited Palestine and seen for themselves the conditions prevailing there, 
the Commission reported to the Security Council that they would be un- 
able to carry out their task without the assistance of armed forces, which 
the Security Council declined to provide. It then became obvious that the 
Commission would not themselves be able to arrange for the transfer of the 
functions exercised by the Central Government and steps were accordingly 
taken to devolve upon local authorities those functions which could ap- 
propriately be assumed by them. Municipalities were given increased 
powers of taxation, and hospitals, schools and other services v/ere handed 
over to them. Municipal police forces were organised for the maintenance 
of law and order within their own communities and licenses issued to im- 
porters to enable them to continue the purchase of essential commodities 
hitherto imported in bulk by the Government. Certain services, such as 
posts and telegraphs, could not, by their very nature, be transferred to local 
authorities but, with these exceptions, everything possible was done to en- 
sure that the disappearance of a Central Government would not lead to the 
complete breakdown of those services on which the ordinary life of the 
country depends. At the same time, the interception of ships carrying Jew- 
ish illegal immigrants and of armed Arab bands from neighbouring States 
added to the difficulties already overburdening the British forces, who had 
to defend both Arabs and Jews against major attacks by their opponents. 
Not only did they receive no co-operation from either side, but they were 
themselves constantly attacked and, in the last month of the Mandate, re- 
inforcements had to be sent to Palestine in order to cover the withdrawal 
of the troops already there. 

The mounting tide of violence and their almost insuperable administra- 
tive problems did not prevent the Government of Palestine from continu- 
ing their attempts at mediation or from supporting the efforts made by the 
United Nations to arrange a truce, particularly in Jerusalem, where the holy 
places of three great religions were threatened with desecration and de- 
struction. In this, at least, they have achieved some measure of success. 

Although British responsibility for Palestine has ceased, it is the earnest 
hope of His Majesty's Government that, as both sides come to realise the 
tragic consequences of attempting to conquer Palestine by force, some com- 
promise may yet be possible, which will prevent the destruction of all that 
has been achieved during the last thirty years and which will enable the 
people of Palestine to live at peace and to govern themselves. To that end 
His Majesty's Government are still prepared to give every assistance in their 
power, short of imposing by force a solution not acceptable to both peoples. 

■' iLii.i<iii!.'i!tU:-';(ii.; 

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